The "hippies" of the 1960's

from: wanted to live the revolution as if had been won

The "hippies" of the 1960's did not come out of nowhere. They were the descendants of the "beats" of the previous generation. Proof in this can be seen in how easily people like the poet Allen Ginsberg moved quite easily from the "beat generation" to the counter-culture of the 1960's. The counter-culture is often confused with the New Left but they held an uneasy alliance. In fact, it was SDS who invaded the communes of the Liberation News Service and ransacked one of the more cultural enclaves of the movement. The hippies rejected the cultural norms of middle class society and rebelled against it by turning convention on its head while using guerrilla theater as a means of protest. They were more interested in dropping out of the rat race than reforming it but retained a anarchist streak that often promoted spontaneous actions. It was a movement that sought a utopia, which puts it within other utopian alternatives of living, and within the American tradtion. The hippies wanted to live the revolution as if had been won rather than join organized political campaigns. They were more into, a phrase from the day, in creating an alternative world. Their politics were more tied to groups like the "Diggers" who provided free food to the residents of the Haight than the bomb-throwing tactics of the Weathermen. They became targets for the police shakedowns and while they saw the man as an oppressor; they wanted the police to leave them alone and let them live their lives. The world of the hippies was also tied to drugs, mostly pot and LSD, but not limited to those drugs. They saw LSD, and pot to a lesser extent, as mind alternating drugs that could raise the conscious of people. It is, in retrospect, quite interesting that LSD was first developed as a mind-control program for the Army and CIA. But, back then, it was thought that acid could free your mind from the constraints of society. Rock music played an important role in the development of this youth culture. When the Beatles arrived in America the seed for a new post-modern culture was planted. They were force and soon rock groups began to flourish across the country. The Beatles were followed by the Rolling Stones, the Animals, the Kinks, the Who and Jimmy Hendrix, who was from Seattle but became part of the English invasion. In America groups like the Greatful Dead, The Jeffersom Airplane, the Doors, the Lovin Spoonful and Bob Dylan who drew their support directly from these alternative pockets of culture. The flight to the suburbs in the 1950's left many areas, with spacious housing, available to the young people. These cheap rents in the Haight or on New York's lower east side allowed the hippies to live on very little money. This, with the advancement of Real Estate values, make living with no money virtually impossible.. It was a generation that sought to remove themselves from the dominant culture and create their own world. In the end, it failed and was overwhelmed by the drug culture, but that occirs in the 1970's and is often vonfused with the years of the 60's. It was an act of resistance that sought a way out of the rat race and for better world. That, it wasn't successful, is not the point but it should be remembered that there were people who tried to resist the dominant consumer culture.



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